What do we do?
Over the past three years the Institute developed into a critical space that brings different voices, ideas and practices together to advance the human and academic projects of the University. Students, staff and community members meet here to find ways to engage with diverse views, realities and aspirations. We cultivate humanity so that reconciliation and social justice can be expressed in our everyday life and we work against disrespect and inequalities on our campuses and in our society.
Through our various critical conversations, public lectures, seminars and colloquia, fresh understandings and ideas come to the fore and new inclusive ways of doing life in a local and global multicultural society are invented. The Institute also focuses on university transformation and mediates between the University transformation project and national pressures. One of our main tasks is the positive positioning of the University within national and international processes of higher education transformation; this we are steadily achieving given the growing national appreciation of the University’s efforts. We play key roles in transformation debates within Higher Education South Africa (HESA) and ministerial processes. We promote, protect and monitor human rights across our campuses and are frequently requested to support the work of the South African Human Rights Commission; and to provide advice to other state agencies.
We conduct cutting-edge research on social cohesion, reconciliation, human rights and higher education transformation and our outputs are steadily increasing. We have three masters and doctoral postgraduate programmes that are kicking off in January 2015, and we teach, on invitation, across the various faculties, and at other national and international universities.
Who is the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice?
The Institute was established based on the recognised need to relate the UFS's academic mandate to the complexities arising from a conflicted South African social context. The Institute, more than any other academic initiative, represents our university's Human Project, which rests on cultivating humanity as a counterstrategy to the disrespect and violence that pervade human relations. We continuously strive towards honing the focus of our work in response to the range of expectations emanating not only from our immediate university community, but also from the South African context at large.
The Institute's mandate is divided into two distinct, but supplementary divisions – one being research, and the other being institutional transformation and human rights. These two areas work hand-in-hand, in the sense that the Institute's approach to institutional transformation and human rights is informed by its research framework while its research agenda is responsive to work done in the area of institutional transformation and human rights.
The Institute is a critical space where engaged scholarship, public discussion, community engagement and teaching are innovatively integrated towards exploring and finding solutions to the complex and challenging work of social transformation in South Africa. The Institute works towards the realization of this mission through a multiplicity of approaches and methods, informed by the notion that deep and complex social challenges require courageous and challenging scholarship supported by innovative organizational forms and institutional arrangements.
Last updated: 13 March 2015 10:19